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Chapter One I It was right around midnight and bodies were heating up at the G-Spot. I should have been at home studying for a chemistry test but instead I was sitting with my girl Brittany in a private booth at the most expensive gentleman’s club in Harlem.
“This place is the shit, Juicy.” The music was loud and Brittany was dancing in her seat. “Your man is large,” Brittany said. “Old as dirt, but large. If Cecil owned a fly joint like this instead of a detail shop, I’d be hanging lovely every night. I can’t believe they charge a grand just to get in the door, but with all these rich-ass basketball players and rap artists up in here I guess cheddar ain’t nothing but cheese.”
Saturday night was Ladies Night at the G-Spot Social Club. Although the lap dances and private parties catered to the men, one night a week sisters came out to drool over some of the sexiest brothers on the New York street scene.
Brittany was steady running her mouth. She was in my finance class at Fordham University, and I had invited her down to the Spot because I liked having company.
“Juice,” she said, “this place is not only classy, but it’s also hot! Thanks for getting me in for free, but damn, girl, when are the brothers coming out?”
“Hold on,” I told her. “The male strippers are coming up next.” And that’s when my trouble will really begin, I thought, crossing my legs.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Brittany said. Dressed in a short white skirt and a silk halter, she was drinking double shots of Alize and had three lines of coke laid out on the table in front of her. “I mean, the girls are working it, but where are the men with the fine bodies? I want to see some hard asses and Mandingo backs. Maybe even get me some dill-zick, if they slinging any!”
As soon as she said that I looked around for G and saw him walking up the stairs like he did every night at this time. G was a man of habit. I could put my money on it that every night at exactly midnight, he would disappear upstairs to check on his drug operation and make sure each nanogram of his powder was accounted for.
The house rule was to get the men to spend every dime in their pockets, and every girl had to do her part. It was about getting them to buy drinks all night, pay for lap dances; and if they wanted to fuck, they paid for the sex and the room, too.
And Brittany was right. Money wasn’t a big thing for the drug dealers and playas, but I could see how it would turn her on. The dollars had my nose open at first too, but not anymore. These days chasing the thing that I wanted most could get me killed. It was like being addicted to candy and working in a chocolate factory where the product was off limits. Night after night I sat in the G-Spot, the biggest sex den in New York City, and watched others get what I needed.
Let me just put it out there.
I was a nineteen-year-old Harlem girl with a healthy appetite. But it wasn’t sweets that I craved. And it wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t jewelry, and it wasn’t Prada skirts or fur coats neither. All that stuff was at my fingertips, mine for the taking. I was miserable in spite of all the bling. Because even though I rolled with the richest man in Harlem, I couldn’t get my g-spot hit. I was Granite McKay’s woman, and I craved dick.
I guess you could say G inherited me from my grandmother, who had been good friends with him and his mother. Even though he was twenty-seven years older than me, I had known him all my life. When I was a kid we lived on 136th Street in Harlem, and I used to run numbers for my grandmother. I could remember what everybody on the block played, and I never forgot a bet. Grandmother was sanctified but she played her some numbers every day. I would run up to the number house and put the numbers in, then keep track of who hit without ever writing any of it down. Every afternoon when whoever hit got paid, my grandmother got her cut and me and my younger brother Jimmy got a Nehi grape soda, a pack of watermelon Now & Laters, and some rainbow jawbreakers.
G owned the number spot and a lot of other businesses in Harlem, too. He had been married to a Puerto Rican woman at one time, but people said she disappeared one day and nobody ever went looking for her. G had a son named Gino, but nobody had seen him in years. He went to college in another state because G wanted him to live a different type of life.
By the time I was fifteen I was looking at Granite McKay with grown-woman eyes because he had a body that was out of this world. I had heard all kinds of rumors about older men like him. Old men give you worms. Old cum turns into buttermilk. Old balls sag and have gray hairs on them. I didn’t listen to none of that shit because I didn’t think it applied to the way G was laying it down. Young or old, he was the finest man I’d ever seen in my life. G was tall and had dark skin and hair that was real black and wavy. Every six months he was driving a spanking new car. People on the street worshiped him and treated him like the king of Harlem.
But one day me and Jimmy and Grandmother watched from our window as G beat a man down on a street corner. The man was bleeding and begging for his life, and G held him down and bent his fingers back one at a time. All ten of them. I could feel his bones crack. A cop car drove up and when the patrolmen inside saw that it was G administering the ass-whipping they pulled away and kept right on going. When I asked Grandmother what the man could have done that was so bad, she told me he was G’s cousin, and that he’d cheated G out of twenty dollars on a bet. I couldn’t understand it because G was so rich. He owned all the drug dealers in Harlem. He owned the number spots and restaurants and clubs. Twenty dollars was nothing to a man like him.
But Grandmother said it was the betrayal and not the money that almost got the man killed. She said G had killed other people for less than that and the only reason G didn’t kill this man because they were family and had grown up together and G loved him. I saw the man not too long after that on Malcolm X Boulevard and both of his hands were in a cast. One of his eyeballs was gone out the socket and he had no front teeth. Grandmother said G let his cousin live as a lesson to everybody walking the streets of Harlem: Nobody betrayed G and got away with it.
“Girl, you sure the dranky dranks are free?” Brittany picked up her glass and guzzled her drink down. She sniffed a line from the table and then offered me some. I shook my head. My mother had been a junkie ho so I never used drugs.
The crowd started clapping and Brittany pointed up at the stage. Her mouth fell open as the spotlight shone on a sister who was squatting with her back to the crowd. The girl was named Honey Dew, and dollars was being thrown up on the stage like mad. Honey Dew bent over and spread her butt cheeks and picked up a full bottle of Coke using just the muscles in her pussy.
“Oooh! Did you see that!” Brittany and everybody else was going crazy. “I gotta learn that move!”
“I don’t know if she’s giving lessons, but drink all you want.” I turned away from the scene on the stage. “Go on, Britt. Order another round. Whatever you want is yours tonight.”
I wished I could say the same thing about myself. I couldn’t get what I wanted if I tried. None of the men in Harlem were crazy enough to touch me. G would never cheat on me, and he played me so close I couldn’t cheat on him either. He allowed me go to college three days a week, but that was only to keep me from getting bored.
From the Trade Paperback edition.